Crew set to host Red Bulls
Fatigue will factor into this weekend’s game plan for the New York Red Bulls, although the Columbus Crew still expect their opponents to attack.
The Red Bulls seek a third straight victory and first on the road Saturday night when they try to extend the Crew’s winless streak to four straight matches.
New York (2-2-4) has totaled six goals in consecutive victories since a season-opening six-match winless streak. Bradley Wright-Phillips had his first career hat trick in Wednesday’s 4-0 rout of Houston despite missing a practice session with a fever.
Thierry Henry had the other goal and helped create all three for Wright-Phillips, assisting twice and drawing a penalty kick on the final one.
"I was told from a number of coaches last year and really when you think about it, it rings so true that just having Thierry in the lineup, just seeing that on the paper, it intimidates certain people and it definitely puts certain people on their heels before the game because of his ability," coach Mike Petke said.
Henry also scored in New York’s previous contest, a 2-1 win over Philadelphia on April 16.
"Two weeks ago everybody was having a go at us and now everybody will be buzzing after this game but we need to be relaxed and focused," Henry said Wednesday. "We have a difficult game against Columbus coming."
Petke said he may have to play a "boring" defensive game due to the short turnaround. He could have star midfielder Tim Cahill back from a hamstring injury while defender Ibrahim Sekagya will return from suspension.
"It’s not going to be easy, not just the fact that we’ll be tired but also the fact that we’re going to a place in Columbus, which they’re a good team and they’re tough to play there," Petke said.
Crew coach Gregg Berhalter doesn’t believe that the Red Bulls will come to Ohio with a defensive mind-set.
"I don’t think it’s in their DNA," Berhalter told the Crew’s official website. "I think they’re a very attack-oriented team. They’re a very strong team in possession and I think it can be set up to be a fantastic match if both teams look to play."
Columbus (3-1-2) was off to its best start after winning its first three games but has since managed a loss and two draws. The Crew will be the more rested club after last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with D.C. United.
Hector Jimenez scored in the 90th minute to rescue a point for the Crew, who played with 10 men after defender Bernardo Anor was sent off in the 81st. Anor, who is second on the team with two goals, is suspended.
"It’s difficult (replacing Anor), but I think we’ll come up with the right solution," Berhalter said. "I think there are some guys that have been itching for playing time and I think the beauty of this is that it’s a chance to give guys minutes when they want them."
Columbus star forward Federico Higuain has a team-high four goals and scored three of his club’s four goals in last year’s season series. Each club won once along with one draw.
Henry has five goals and two assists in five career matches against the Crew.